Elder fraud creeps up slowly and when it picks up steam, it can be difficult to stop, especially when it is financial exploitation. Seniors are vulnerable whether they live in a nursing home, assisted living facility or even at home. The perpetrators run the gamut to known or trusted individuals such as family members and caregivers, or fraudsters targeting them.
Suspicious financial activity climbs
According to a study by the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), roughly 63,500 reports of suspicious financial activity involving senior citizens were recorded in 2017. That number is four times the number from 2013. Also, the dollar amount in these suspicious incidents totaled $1.7 billion.
The CFPB provided various examples of financial exploitation of seniors. They include:
- A son who abuses his power of attorney and uses his mother’s money for personal activities. A 2015 report in The New England Journal of Medicine notes that perpetrators are typically family members such as adult children and spouses. The majority are male who are unemployed, have a criminal record, a history of substance abuse and financial problems.
- Caregivers — including those that work in nursing homes — who withdraw large amounts of the victim’s money and use it on personal expenses.
- Fraudsters who pose as the “fiancée” of an elderly man, seeking money transfers wired outside the country, allegedly so she can visit him.